Published 10/05/11

Honors Students Travel to NYC

October 2011

The New York Experience immersed students in the commercial and cultural life of New York through a program including four company visits, a Broadway show and a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Elizabeth Powers, assistant to the vice president for academic affairs, noted that, “The mission of the Honors Program is to offer its members a unique, personalized experience to enrich their academic, social, cultural, and professional talents in a mentor-oriented environment.  The New York Experience touched every aspect of the intended purpose of the Honors Program.”  

The trip began September 29 with a visit to Brothers Harley Davidson, one of the firm’s fastest growing dealerships in the country.  The general manager explained the magic behind the iconic brand, saying, “Harley is not selling motorcycles. We are selling a lifestyle.”  Students and faculty learned how Harley enables each customer to customize their motorcycle. Customization generates excitement and happiness for its customers, as well as healthy profits for the firm.   

Later that evening, Bryant alumni joined the Honors students at Oppenheimer’s offices in mid-town, thanks to the generosity of Lawrence and Trustee Rita Williams-Bogar ’76. Katie Colton ’12 commented, “The NYC Experience is one of the best out-of-the classroom learning experiences in which I have taken part. We went behind the scenes of some of the largest companies in the world.”  

Industry insights from leading retailers

Friday’s itinerary began with a visit to Disney’s new Times Square store.  Bryant students and faculty learned how and why Disney has overhauled its entire retail strategy over the past two years, inspired by the encouragement of Disney board member Steve Jobs, and Disney surprised Courtney Weiss ’12 and Chris Brida ’12 with birthday greetings. 

"The NYC Experience is one of the best out-of-the classroom learning experiences in which I have taken part. We went behind the scenes of some of the largest companies in the world.”

Katie Colton

From there, students trekked to the SOHO section of Manhattan, site of Uniqlo’s first US flagship store.  A force in Asia, Uniqlo now hopes to become one of the world’s dominant retailers.  Students learned how Uniqlo planned to take New York by storm in the next few weeks, with the opening of two new flagship stores.  International Business major Breanna Weaver ’12 explained, “Visiting this company gave me the opportunity to listen firsthand about what it is like to work for a foreign company.  It was like someone took the information out of one of the textbooks I have read and brought the experience to life in the middle of forty-foot stacks of cashmere sweaters.” 

During the afternoon, Steve Tully ‘98 described how his firm, Cantillon Capital, manages the financial assets of organizations ranging from large university endowments to corporate pension funds. Tully described his personal and professional journey, and offered terrific career advice.   Alex Bigelow ’13 expressed gratitude for the “opportunity to interact with alumni and corporate leaders who I would otherwise never have the occasion to meet.” 

Friday concluded with a dinner in Manhattan followed by a Broadway show: How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.  On Saturday, the NYC Honors Experience concluded with a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

An education for the today's world

Sarah Perlman ’12 marveled at how the experience demonstrated the relevance of her Bryant education.  “From speaking with business owners, to analyzing a retail strategy, networking with alumni and tapping into my cultural side on Broadway and at the Met, it was a fantastic way to realize how much I have learned and grown at Bryant."  She went on say, “I was impressed with my fellow classmates when we could turn to each other at almost all of the sites we visited, draw on a concept we had learned, apply it to the situation.  It truly shows the how relevant our Bryant education is in today's world."  Chris Brida noted, “This trip served a far greater purpose than a weekend in the city. This trip expanded my professional horizons. It had value in networking, professional growth, and entertainment.  I was able to serve as an ambassador for the University, the Honors program, and myself.”  

Many participants noted that faculty and students built special bonds during the trip. Anthony Nader ’12 commented, “Beyond the interesting and thought-provoking site visits, the individuals on this trip created lasting memories for years to come.”  Professor Rich Holtzman explained how the experience left a deep impression on him. “I never forget what amazing students we have at Bryant.  However, sharing time together outside the classroom reminded me how special it is for students and faculty to move beyond those categories and get to know one another as people.”